Hair Police – Mercurial Rights

Hair Police - Mercurial Rites

In 2001, noise trio, Hair Police, made quite a racket within the experimental music scene and continued to do so for a number of years before going on an unannounced hiatus in which members pursued endeavors in their respective separate projects. It wasn’t until earlier this year that the group returned to the noise scene with their most complete effort in years and arguably their most intimidating release out of their entire catalogue. Featuring members of noise legends Wolf Eyes and Burning Star Core, Hair Police brings together aspects from these backgrounds, the frothing primal aggression of the former and mesh it with the sonically attentive subtleties of the latter. With ‘Mercurial Rites’ the group looks to strip the semi-polished sheen of noise music’s marriage with digitally processed sounds and the recent influence of dub music, instead, taking the genre back to the electronic medieval that seems to have been absent in recent years.

While in recent times the musicians most notable for their contributions to the early modern developments of the now thriving noise scene, the likes of Dominick Fernow of Prurient and  Vatican Shadow, Pete Swanson (ex-Yellow Swans), and Black Dice have been moving more toward exclusively structural variants of electronic music, implementing their once completely atonal noise compositions into the structural format of modern electronic music, namely the likes of dub and minimal techno, Hair Police have something entirely different in mind, devoid of any of the aforementioned electronic themes, thus harkening back to the primitive roots of electronic music. Hair Police revisits the confrontational aspects of noise that the genre was known for during its early developments recalling the hellish vocals evocative of the ear-aching noise pioneered by controversial power-electronics group, Whitehouse in the 80s and early 90s.

Hair Police’s sound actually reminds me a lot of the more abrasive works from Wolf Eyes, albeit, this form of corrosiveness is not of an immediate kind but  rather, long form, slow-burning, and reminiscent of the Wolf Eyes collaborative series of works with psychedelic noise collective, Black Dice. ‘Mercurial Rites’ is a record that knows when to be punishingly noisy and when to bring in a moodier atmosphere. It is this live aspect that adds layers of depth and uniqueness to an otherwise colorless, bleak vision. The vocals add yet another nightmarish quality to these dissonant tormented soundscapes. With this release the band has proven itself worthy of crafting a nicely balanced record, intermittently transitioning from the tortured analogue hell of ‘We Prepare’ to the  nightmarish dungeon-esque ambience of ‘Scythed Wide’. While Hair Police’s style has always included a strong atmospheric presence the band still manages to touch on a dark aspect of music that feels natural rather than intentional, even in the midst of a less noisy approach. In a genre of extremes  the group has created a sound that isn’t completely over-cooked, finding a middle ground between the unlistenable and the accessible, making this release a good jumping on point for those who are unfamiliar with the band to listen.

Although I’ve had a fondness for noise, drone, experimental, avant-garde; vanguard music as a whole, for some reason I never got around to listening to Hair Police up until this point but even with that said I can say without question that ‘Mercurial Rites’ is easily the bands most complete effort since 2008’s ‘Certainty of Swarms’ and one of the better harsh noise records I’ve heard this year thus far. It is a record that shows that the band hasn’t at all let up on the caustic sound in which they made a name for themselves with, even in the midst of noise music’s current transition toward something conclusively musical; a sound this record seems to be inherently opposed to. It is here that disturbing soundscapes fill the void between blasts of distortion-ridden noise and if that doesn’t sound unsettling enough the shrill disembodied vocals that haunt this record will likely give you nightmares, although these are nightmares that I wouldn’t mind revisiting often.

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Overall Rating: 8.0

Favorite Tracks: ‘We Prepare’

Recommended: Wolf Eyes, Burning Star Core, Black Dice

Released: January 2013


Stream the LP on Type Records

Buy the record on Boomkat

-Tyler Thompson

Pigeon Breeders – Luminous Debris

Pigeon Breeders are a three-piece band from Edmonton, Alberta who you may remember from a review I did of their first release, Nocturnal Reveries, an album that brought together minimalist electroacoustic noise and thick walls of psychedelic drone. The latest release entitled ‘Luminous Debris’, a two part epic that continues to see the band move along familiar territory while progressing and pushing the boundaries of their sound.

Noise and experimental music in general have always been about improvising, at least in some aspects and Pigeon Breeders style of noise embodies the spirit of improvised sound. The group’s style of noise is psychedelic, trance inducing even but do take note, this isn’t psychedelic in the traditional sense so put away your shitty weed, your fractal youtube videos, and forget about The Flaming Lips. Pigeon Breeders brand of psychedelic is more meditative and a lot more noisy than what the word psychedelic entails.

Pigeon Breeders approach to drone and noise is more of an organic effort than most favoring the use of the electroacoustic noise of non-instruments and the exploitation of common instruments such as the reappropriation of the guitar, turning it into something more or less a device of noise making as oppose to a tool used to create music . If you are into drone and noise and this just sounds too out there for your tastes dont worry the band still implements some musicality into their performance which I would be so bold as to say the trio possesses traits similar to that of post-rock music, not so much the sound that is but the structure. The band’s post-rock tendencies aren’t so upfront, they never have been but still, their sound is created on behalf of each members contribution even if slight, they feed off of each other in this push pull kind of relationship where many of their tracks begin as these free-form jam session-like compositions in which each member of the band tends to bring a piece to the table and slowly build up into a crescendo or some sort of community of sound. At this point it isn’t about the technical prowess of an individual musician, I was never picking out passages from any one specific instrument that I enjoyed while listening to this. It is about the indication of something much larger that each musician’s sole contribution helps to create.

If you heard and enjoyed what ‘Nocturnal Reveries’ had to offer then Luminous Debris is sure to please. Each member’s offering, even if it is a minimal contribution serves as a crucial piece in creating these noisy soundscapes and proves that the musicians that make up Pigeon Breeders are surely masters of the improvised craft.

Overall Rating: 7.8

Favorite Tracks:

Recommended: Emeralds and Yellow Swans

Released: 22 August 2012


Listen to the new album via Bandcamp

Ramshackle Day Parade

-Tyler Thompson

mhva – Warmer / Colder



Mhva is a musician from Oslo, Norway who’s glitchy drone / noise soundscapes have garnered some positive response within the soundcloud community and within soundcloud threads on /mu/ which isn’t hard to understand where this following comes from once you listen to his work. Warmer / Colder is a double album consisting of two separate EP’s. Since these two EP’s are made to be played as a whole I decided to review them as an entire album instead of reviewing them both separately which does not necessarily mean that they cannot be enjoy apart from each other.

Warmer / Colder is full of dark mysterious soundscapes and collages of noise in the repetitive fashion of drone. Like most drone recordings the tracks on this album are quite lengthy and change very little sonically, fortunately there are elements of noise, glitch, and even some traditional piano playing that are present throughout these two EPs which do well to prevent the content from getting boring for listeners who may be new to or impatient with the genre while allowing the songs to remain at a glacial pace for familiar listeners. There are many moments of subtle change throughout these two releases; tiny shifts in sound, quiet background noises, drones within drones, and silent tectonic movements that all come together to create a collage of sorts which is one of the fascinating aspects of drone. It is this ability to create the illusion of doing more with less and when you begin to pick up on these acute changes it is at that point that what you are hearing becomes more than just repetitious raw noise and transforms into an actual experience.

I found myself immediately in a state of calmness with the first track which features some simple drones with a bit of foreground noise that becomes progressively more apparent throughout the music, a formula that is explored throughout the album. ‘Pretty Late’ is made up of lumbering melancholic piano chords that are fittingly pieced together with unintelligible spliced samples that act as a musical and textural background element throughout the track. The samples, although minor, give the track a feeling of sadness, not in such a way that it is depressing but in a weird beautiful kind of way making this track to be amongst mhva’s more musical and accessible. This isn’t the only song to feature remnants of traditional sounding instrumentation; “The Punctum” a track on Warmer features some similar piano chords that play amongst a sea of colorful sounds that come into and out of the track.

Mhva creates some interesting experimental compositions that are familiar enough for fans of this style of music to remain interested while being different enough in it’s own right to achieve his own niche within the genre but the music does lack structure and content in which there are moments where I found myself growing bored or impatient with the progression on some of the songs, particularly on a few of the longer tracks such as ‘Beetle’ and ‘Enginery’. I am well aware that this type of music rides on a lack of content but in the context of what mhva has created, what is here is not sparse enough to be interesting in an ultra-minimal way nor is it dense enough to be something I would come back to often, especially when taking into account that the album spans two lengthy EPs. The combination of all these sounds creates some great textures but there is a point where these good ideas fail to become something musical and simply remain ideas, in this case a collection of interesting sounds.

Warmer / Colder is an example of what could have been a truly unique and powerful piece of music that barely falls short of its own expectations. Regardless, I cannot stress enough that with all forms of experimental music the listener themselves are often required to do some of the work as well in order to appreciate what one is being exposed to so with that said, I think this can be something great if the listener is willing to dig deep enough and remain patient in doing so.

Overall rating: 6.8

Favorite Tracks: ‘Five Nights’, ‘Pretty Late’, ‘The Punctum’

Recommended:  Like being in a room full of printers that are simultaneously dying as they all attempt to finish a final job.


mhva on Soundcloud